ALERT: Fake bilums MADE IN CHINA stand to DESTROY our local industry

A few weeks ago, ‘Bilum Meri,’ Florence Jaukae, protested over the sale of machine woven fake bilums being sold in Goroka.

Over 20 years, Jaukae built an industry that revolved around the bilum and the women who weave it. Of course there are now many others who do the same now. But she was able to take the art form overseas against the odds.

She bought samples of the fakes and posted a complaint on Facebook calling for government intervention and protection of the art form.

I support that call.

This morning, we bought two samples from a shop in Lae City. Yes. The counterfeits are also being sold here for K19 each – less than half the price of an authentic bilum.

This trend will destroy the bilum industry if we don’t confront it. The Bilum is important for us as a country. It’s popularity has generated interest by international fashion designers who want a piece of Papua New Guinea.

The ‘Bilum’ has evolved into a brand in itself so much so that a French woman with no connection to Papua New Guinea decided to have the word ‘Bilum’ patented as her own. We’;; probably talk about that later.

The art is a revenue earner for women in Papua New Guinea. This is what pays school fees for their kids and puts food on the table. To have foreign owned businesses destroying that revenue stream and art form with no care for this

country’s traditional arts is absolutely infuriating!

How much protection do the women have? Will the ICCC or whatever relevant body take this fight on? Or will be allow this trend to continue until the bilum becomes one of the many counterfeits made in China?

9 comments on “ALERT: Fake bilums MADE IN CHINA stand to DESTROY our local industry

  1. Australian aboriginals are waging a similar battle now before the courts about copies of their art and musical instruments being made in China and Indonesia and sold in Australia. If you want to make contact with the guy leading this case let me know.


  2. Go back in time!

    Strip the bilum down to its elements.

    Understands each element.

    Understand the process from beginning to end.

    Understand the story behind each element, and the process to bring the bilum together.

    See the bilum!

    Then ask yourself: can the intellectual property regime in Papua New Guinea (copyright, trade marks, patents etc) protect the bilum, each element, and the process?

    Or are there gaps that need to be filled by a sui generis system?

    There was a Bilum IP workshop in Port Moresby in 2015.

    There were also a number of meetings in April 2017 in Port Moresby that resulted in the National Intellectual Property Strategy.

    The problem is well ventilated. Let us now concentrate on what is being done to address the problem, and actually shine the spotlight on these efforts so that that we know that something is being done to address the problem.


  3. they are also selling meri blouses in their shop… Now its going onto Bilums?


  4. Maika Tupua

    You just cannot compete… you need to have a patented weave pattern and marerial and patented design inorder to own stuff….else it is just merely barking at shadows


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